Scout meetings can feel like a chore at times, but they definitely don’t need to be that way! If you’d like to spice up your next troop meeting, I’d recommend trying out some awesome games and challenges. Not only do fun activities break up the more serious parts of a meeting — they also build teamwork amongst Scouts! 🙂
However, finding the perfect activity can be difficult. You’ll want something that every Scout can have fun doing, regardless of age or ability. Also, the activity shouldn’t take too long. Based on these requirements, here’s my list of the top 7 best activities for troop meetings:
- Steal the Bacon
- Merit Badge Clinics
- Knot Tying Practice
- Inventory Cleanup
- Outdoor Camp Cooking Practice
- Troop Elections/Presentations
Below, I’ll explain how you can set up each of these activities and get your troop fully invested in them! From personal experience, I can say that each of these games and challenges offers a fun way to break up a meeting and learn useful skills with your Scouting buddies.
By the way — If you’re looking for fun activities to do on your next troop campout, I’d highly suggest checking out my other article on the 5 Best Scout Camping Activities That Your Troop Will Love. While these activities are better done outside, they work great for Scout meetings too!
Another amazing resource to look through is the BSA’s very own Troop Resources section, which lists out over 50 fun and exciting Scouting activities you could try.
Building friendships and learning teamwork are some of the best parts of Scouting. Use these activities as an opportunity to get closer to your fellow Scouts and start making your meetings FUN! Next time you plan a troop meeting, I challenge you to include at least 1 of these activities! 😀
My Top 7 Troop Meeting Activities
1) Steal the Bacon
This was one of the best games to play during a troop meeting! Steal the Bacon is a fun way to get everyone moving, break up the routine, and encourage personal fitness with some friendly competition. I’d highly recommend it if your troop is feeling low-energy halfway through a meeting.
How Playing Steal The Bacon Works:
Steal the Bacon is simply capture the flag, except you don’t need a flag and you can play it anywhere! Pick an item as the “bacon” (uniform, cone, shirt, etc.) and split an area in half for two teams. Each team dashes for the “bacon” in the center of the field and tries to get it to their side.
This game is a great way to accommodate every skill level and group size. The rules are pretty simple, as explained above, and it’s a fun way to break up your meeting. Plus, this is a surefire way to raise your troop’s energy and get everyone invested! Here’s a great video (1:34) explaining the rules:
Because of how easy this game is to play, I think it’d be perfect for troops of any size! Players who don’t want to participate in the athletic portion can even referee, and teams can be split so that both sides have equal chances of winning. Seriously give this one a try!
Also, if you’d like to spice this activity up even further (spicy bacon? 😛 ), here are some ways to make the game a little more interesting your troop:
- Quiz Game: Put an extra “bacon” or two in the center and have each correspond to an answer to a trivia question. If the player gets the question wrong but grabs the flag, they get a point. If they get it right, they get bonus points!
- Blindfolds: Before players go up to get the “bacon”, blindfold them. This adds some extra challenge for both teams and is just funny to watch.
- Relay: Call two numbers at a time in order to quicken the game and require some teamwork. The player who steals the bacon needs to pass it off before they can score.
- Sports Variations: Turn the game into a sporting contest. For example, put a soccer ball in the middle and require players to dribble it back to their side.
The important thing is to make sure the players won’t crash into each other but, from my experience, that’s rarely a problem. Plus, there are so many fun ways to adapt the game, so I’ll leave that to you. Think of some fun twists to keep Scouts on their toes and excited for next time! 🙂
2) Merit Badge Clinics
This was another popular activity in my troop — and one that definitely helped me on my road to Eagle Scout. Merit badge clinics are a great way to work on interesting badges and get real-time help from fellow Scouts. This activity may take a little more effort to plan, but will 100% be worth it.
How To Run A Merit Badge Clinic:
A merit badge clinic is an effective way to help multiple Scouts earn a badge quickly. Plus, merit badge clinics give younger Scouts a chance to easily advance while walking them through the merit badge process. Even older Scouts who’ve already earned the badge will get a chance to practice their leadership and teaching skills!
For suggestions on easy badges to teach, check out my article on the 3 Easiest Merit Badges You Can Earn. You can also check out my Eagle-required Merit Badge Difficulty Rankings if you want to take on a harder badge.
The real challenge around merit badge clinics is making it interesting. Done wrong, a merit badge clinic can be dull and boring. But, done correctly, you’ll have every Scout engaged for the entirety of the clinic and have a merit badge completed across your troop! 😉
One important thing to consider is how you present the information. If you’re simply talking at the younger Scouts, you’re not going to get a whole lot of attentive listeners. Making the activity hands-on is a great way to increase attentiveness and engagement in your troop!
Here are a few more quick tips to keep in mind when planning a successful merit badge clinic:
- Start with why: Make it a point to explain why a Scout would want to learn the merit badge skill. How can it help them in the future? In what way is it relevant to their life now? Why do people do that activity?
- Make it interactive: Ask for audience participation, plan hands-on activities, and avoid lecturing to the group. Also, include props and videos, if possible. Allow time for questions and discussion.
- Break up requirements among speakers: Have groups of 2 Scouts explain each requirement, individually. This way, everyone can present and no one will need to remember too much info.
Finally, you want to keep your clinics condensed. You’ll likely not finish the whole badge at once, so break it into sections. Give as much important info as you can, but keep things fun and interactive. By making learning a marathon and not a sprint, you have much better merit badge clinics! 😀
Playing Mafia is always a fun time, and luckily it’s a pretty easy game to explain. If you’ve never heard of Mafia, it’s quite similar to the popular game Among Us, but mafia-themed instead of space. If you need an indoor game for your troop, this is my best pick!
How Playing Mafia Works:
In Mafia, each player has a role. There is one mayor (moderator), a couple of doctors and sheriffs, civilians, and the mafia. The goal of the mafia is to “kill” other players without being detected. The civilians, sheriff, and doctor need to expose the mafia in order to win.
Despite sounding a little complicated, Mafia is actually super easy to play! One of the major highlights of this game is cooperating to figure out who the killers are. Since you’ll need to get the rules right to have a fun time, here is a good video (3:50) demonstration of how Mafia works:
Mafia is especially great for a rainy day game. While no exercise is involved, this game heavily promotes teamwork and leadership, making it a great troop meeting activity. Scouts also learn how to craft stories, form partnerships with other players, and make the most of an indoor activity! 🙂
4) Knot Tying Practice
This is something you likely already do in your troop meetings, but there are a few creative ways to make knots even more fun! Knot-tying is an essential skill for all Scouts, but I know how hard learning essential knots can be. In order to make knot-tying fun and competitive, here’s a new spin on the activity:
How To Run A Knot Tying Activity:
Turn knot-tying into a game or competition! This creates a more hands-on and exciting activity for Scouts who may not usually be interested. Scouts competing for knot-tying speed, the right knot choice, or the best tied-together creation will really reinforce one’s learning of these knots!
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, changing up how you teach knots is the key to an informative and fun activity. This can be difficult, but here are some great tips that will make your knot-tying activities engaging for nearly every Scout in your troop:
- Competition: There are a few ways you can plan a knot-tying competition. For instance, you can create a speed knot-tying event, a knot strength test with some weights, or score patrols based on how their knot looks.
- Scout Led Events: Teaching Scouts a skill using the EDGE Method and learning a few knots are both required for the Tenderfoot rank, and offer an opportunity for younger Scouts to teach the troop. Knot tying is a simple skill that can be taught easily, even by inexperienced Scouts.
- Practical Uses: For each knot, you can assign a practical use to be demonstrated. This can be a fun activity and involve exciting challenges like tying a Scout up or lifting objects using a pulley system.
There are seven required knots in Scouting, each varying in difficulty. If you haven’t seen it already, check out my Scout Knot-Tying Guide for tips on tying (and teaching!) these knots. You could even learn other useful knots as well, but the required ones are a great starting point!
The Red Rope Challenge
Once your troop can tie knots well and you’re ready to up the ante, you could turn your troop’s knot tying into a cross-patrol competition! I’d recommend choosing 1 member of each patrol to race in tying a randomly selected knot. The patrol with the most individual wins takes the prize!
Or, you could even take on the Red Rope Challenge! What’s the Red Rope Challenge? Glad you asked! Watch the video below (2:45) for a Scoutmaster’s awesome explanation of how to complete the Red Rope Challenge:
To complete the Red Rope challenge, you’ll need to tie 14 different knots in under a minute. It is possible, I swear! For more info, check out Troop 811’s fantastic resource on the Red Rope Challenge which includes a demonstration, a tutorial on each knot, and the rules.
Once some Scouts start getting good at the challenge, you could even keep a troop record of the fastest times to beat! This challenge is an awesome way for Scouts to build the muscle memory needed to quickly tie 14 essential knots. 🙂
5) Inventory Cleanup
Although admittedly not as fun as some other activities on this list, inventory cleanup is still extremely essential and can even help build your troop’s teamwork. Making sure your equipment is in order will help outings run smoothly and help adult leaders know what to purchase for future trips.
How To Run A Great Troop Inventory Cleanup:
After a campout or any other Scouting event, troop trailers and inventories can become cluttered and disorganized. A planned inventory cleanup can get your troop’s supplies straightened out in no time! This process can even be used to help teach younger Scouts about the equipment in your troop’s inventory.
The most efficient way to clean up is by using a duty roster to assign Scouts to various categories of items or areas. I’ll go into some more detail on that in a sec, but you want this clean-up to be efficient and effective. Communicating and coordinating with your quartermaster is crucial!
Before you start cleaning, you’ll need to explain to each group where things are organized and how you want it done to eliminate confusion. Here are some examples of how you can divvy up the work:
- Tents: This may be one of the more important items. Each tent needs to have all of its parts (stakes, poles, tarps, etc.) and be organized accordingly. Any tents that are damaged or missing items should be cataloged and replaced.
- Cooking Supplies: A broad term that can include non-perishable food items, kitchens, and utensils. Make sure all of the items are accounted for and in their proper location.
- Flammables: This can include firewood, firestarter, and fuel. These items need to go in a dry location where they can’t be ruined or set alight. Anything that looks potentially dangerous (like a damaged propane tank) should be reported.
Like with the other activities, a bit of creativity can go a long way toward making the clean-up fun! Try to compete to see which group can create the most organized section, or which patrol can finish cleaning first. Either way, you’re still accomplishing a super-important troop task! 😉
6) Outdoor Camp Cooking Practice
Cooking is a major skill that you’ll use for the rest of your life. This is why you want to get as much practice as possible! And what better time than by working together with your fellow Scouts during a troop meeting?
How To Hold An Outdoor Cooking Practice:
Pick a simple meal (hobo dinner, dutch oven recipes, monkey bread, etc), pull out your camp stoves, and allow the older Scouts to teach the newer Scouts how to cook. Not only do you teach a new skill, but everyone also ends up with a tasty snack to hold them over during a meeting!
This is easily one of the most useful and fun meeting activities since every Scout needs to learn how to prepare food for the Cooking merit badge. Plus, during this time, all of the Scouts in your troop will get to hang out together, learn, cook, eat, and socialize. 🙂
What To Cook During Troop Activities
There are plenty of fantastic meals you can demonstrate to your troop. The meal needs to be something that’s easy, but not as easy as heating up leftovers or roasting a hotdog. Here are some good resources to help you narrow down your meal choices:
- Hobo Meals: This was definitely one of my favorites since it’s a pretty varied meal, but doesn’t require much effort. If you want something easy and filling, this is a great choice!
- Monkey Bread: If you’re looking for a delicious dessert option, monkey bread is easily the best! It’s delicious and super simple to make in a dutch oven. (Amazon referral link to my top Dutch Oven pick!)
- Japanese Beef Curry: This is one of my favorite meals to make, given how simple and tasty it is! Plus, preparing the ingredients will allow you to demonstrate a variety of useful cooking skills for your troop.
However, there’s a lot more to cooking than just the actual cooking and eating. Make sure your cooking practice includes those steps as well! Here’s a quick list of essential skills to cover during a cooking-themed troop meeting:
- Meal Planning: Being prepared to cook is crucial since you can’t begin without ingredients, chefs, or a recipe. Planning a camp meal isn’t too hard, but needs to be done thoughtfully. When teaching this part of the skill, I’d recommend you go over:
- Choosing a meal
- Deciding the ingredients
- Assigning who’s bringing what
- Agreeing on what each member is cooking
- Cooking Prep: This step is simple but important. When getting ready to cook, you’ll need a working stove (or a dutch oven), ingredients, pots/pans, and utensils.
- When leading this step, walk each Scout through proper cooksite setup and choosing cooking utensils. Also, remind Scouts about the importance of washing their hands! This is vital for Public Health.
- Time to Cook: Now that your ingredients are gathered, your kitchen is set up, and your hands are washed, it’s time to cook! This can be taught hands-on or visually — whichever works better for your troop.
- To make sure that each step is explained and demonstrated effectively, multiple cooking stations can help!
- Cleanup: Cleanup is another super-important but often overlooked aspect of cooking. Luckily, by using the 3-Bucket Method you can clean up effectively while conserving resources and not making a mess! Check out my guide to camp cooking cleanup in the link above.
Cooking practice will definitely be a hit with the Scouts in your troop, and it’s pretty simple to do. Before starting on cooking though, get together with your patrol/leadership to pick some good meals and get set up. That will help make this go a lot smoother. Have fun, Scout! 😀
7) Troop Elections/Presentations
Finally, elections are a super important process for any troop, so that’s why I’d highly recommend thinking about it as a troop activity! Whether it’s election planning or SPL Speech prep, covering these topics before the actual election will help every Scout be prepared for the real thing!
How To Hold An Activity Around Troop Elections:
An election offers Scouts the opportunity to accept leadership roles and be nominated by fellow Scouts. The election process can be pretty simple with a short voting system and nominations can even take place the meeting beforehand.
Participating in troop elections and presentations will help Scouts to develop important communication and leadership skills, so I’d highly recommend including this activity in some of your meetings!
Even if it isn’t yet time to hold leadership elections though, you could still set aside time to allow Scouts to present their leadership knowledge to the troop. Being able to lead and effectively communicate are vital real-world skills that you have the great opportunity to start practicing in Scouting!
I Hope This Helps You To Plan Some Awesome Troop Meetings!
Planning great troop meeting activities can improve Scout attentiveness and help to form strong bonds within your troop. Each and every one of the activities covered in this article are a fantastic way to get your Scouts excited, engaged, and learning during your next meeting!
If you enjoyed learning about some of my favorite Scout meeting activities, I’d highly recommend also checking any of the following articles if they spark your interest:
- My All-time Favorite Scout Camping Games And Activities
- Why Scouts Wear Neckerchief Scarfs (And Their Symbolism)
- Why Is Earning Your Eagle Rank Worth It? The Lesser-known Benefits Of Eagle
- The 5 Most Common Mistakes That You’re Probably Making As A Leader
- 99 Extraordinary And Creative Eagle Scout Project Ideas
I hope you found this guide helpful! Next time you plan a troop meeting, try to include one of these activities to make things a bit more fun and educational. Thanks for checking out ScoutSmarts and, until next time, I’m wishing you all the best on your Scouting journey! 🙂